Chaos is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “complete disorder and confusion.” For students who are part of San Marin’s rock band class, the word has taken on another meaning. While chaos within the classroom is usually prohibited, rock band encourages a space of creative freedom and experimentation. The class’s “chaotic” environment radiates positive energy and has proven to be conducive for music education.
Senior Mandy Bell has been drumming in the rock band class since her freshman year.
“It is beautifully chaotic, the students have free reign, and anyone is allowed to join, it’s really inclusive,” Bell said.
The class consists of six individual bands that practice after school for an hour and a half every Monday. The bands showcase their hard work at concerts, which anyone can attend. The concerts are at Hopmonk Tavern and occur three times per year.
“They are set up like a professional gig and it costs $15 for anyone to come,” Bell said.
Junior Lars Rau plays the keyboard for his band “Dead in the Living Room.” Rau eagerly awaits the concerts and appreciates the program’s fluidity.
“It’s nice to perform, it shows all the work we put into it, it makes us feel good,” Rau said. “Songs that you have never heard of give you the opportunity to branch out with different music.”
Rock band gives students the opportunity to play music that they enjoy, no matter the content, difficulty, or genre. The class is taught by San Marin’s band teacher Allison McIvor and musician James Harman. Harman encourages students to play music that interests them.
“The kids have a lot of freedom, I let them pick songs that they are excited about and then teach them about music through the song,” Harman said.
Students are inspired to join the program because of this freedom.
“I decided to join because despite the amount of time I have spent in jazz ensembles, I don’t really enjoy jazz music. I have always wanted the opportunity to play music that I like to listen to,” Bell said.
She believes that the concerts offer something for everyone.
“It’s one of the few things that I would say anyone could enjoy at the school,” Bell said.
Students in the audience truly appreciate the program’s inclusivity. Junior Ava Airhart is a regular at the rock band concerts and she admires their social aspect.
“I like singing along and dancing… people in different grades will mingle–in the crowds we all are like friends,” Airhart said. “It’s good to get out there, you can meet new people who you haven’t talked to at school and see what the music program is doing.”
Student involvement and enthusiasm are crucial to a lively concert, so Harman hopes that more students will attend and be active within the crowd,
“The more people that attend the concert, the better the concert is going to be, the more energy there is going to be and the better the bands are going to perform,” Harman said. “That’s what music is all about, the exchange of energy between an audience and the performers.”
On Feb. 9, students joined together at Hopmonk Tavern for the class’s second concert of the year. Bands will be returning to the tavern for their last concert of the year on May 11.